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Josh shares his dyslexia story

Thursday 20 May 2021

Josh shares is dyslexia story, from childhood struggles, finding the right strategies, the right employer support and finding a way to finally enjoy reading books.

From a young age, my reading was well behind my peers and spelling was terrible. My mum used to work in a school as an advanced level learning assistant, she began thinking I could be from the age of 12. I had good grades and it was just seen as especially from my English teachers I didn't like reading. I still remember that feeling of knowing you might have to read something out loud and trying to do it as quickly as possible to get through it.

It wasn't until my A levels when my mum pushed for a diagnosis through my sixth form college unfortunately the computer screening test they got me to do wasn't that up to par I have now learned. After that I managed to get through my A levels with A*, B, C. It wasn't until half way through my AAT level 3 course in college that a tutor mentioned dyslexia to me again.

We had just done a written assessment for one of the units and I had passed. After being told I passed my tutor pulled me aside to ask if I was dyslexic as my work sounded like a dyslexic individual wrote it. After explaining the screening test in sixth form, I was sent to the college's exam team to do a few written assessments to see if I qualify for extra exam time. which I did. It wasn't until I was 23 and had been with my current employer for 4 years that I decided to find out for sure. I was receiving a lot feedback from seniors that my emails always needed re writing and my time management was poor. I booked an assessment through the BDA in June, which is when I found out I was indeed dyslexic. I remember sitting there thinking about school life and work life just that light bulb moment. It's a freeing but scary experience as I had then a lot of self-doubt back then.

My skills, challenges and strategies

Because of my dyslexia I am very visual, I have a great sense of space and time. I'm able to recall where I was during a conversation. I can then visually recall that in my mind and play it back to remember what was discussed. This ability I always had, I used in my A levels recalling in my mind the whiteboard from lesson months before the exam to help me answer the question. Being so visual with my dyslexia, I know is how I got to where I am today. I find my biggest challenge is time management, your always taught do a list of what work you need to do and when. For me this approach has never worked, I make up a little time line in my head of the tasks I need to get done. Each task is on a business card with key dates and people the task relates to.

For struggling with something for so long and knowing something so mad crazy is your answer. It just stuns me every time how creative you are with dyslexia. I do have the stereotypical dyslexic trait of spelling and reading. From a young age I accepted I couldn't spell and learned to live with always being corrected or being told to sound it out. Mentally over time it does wear away confidence, as you no longer trust yourself anymore to spell even the simplest of words. The best trick in the book is to find a simpler spelling to replace the word, so then the grammar of what you were trying say no longer makes sense and trying to get the ideas to paper, that you just spoke and explained perfectly 5 mins ago spoken. It's the most frustrating feeling in the world and one of the hardest to explain to someone who is neurotypical.

Getting the right support is vital

I cannot praise my line manager at my job and the HR team enough. My employer has been so supportive in letting me go about getting this diagnosis on my own terms, understanding that I felt it's the explanation to why I struggle more than my peers in certain areas. Receiving the dyslexia software and hardware I needed has been a life changer along with the support of the assessor who suggested visual stress tests. Finding out that I am unique in that way too as made everyday life with reading so much easier. The occupational health team my employer sent me to and coaching sessions to aid my dyslexic to help me find my own ways of thinking, planning my work load and spelling. It's been truly amazing, I am lucky to work for such a great company.

Finding the joy in books

My biggest reward to myself since my diagnosis, is being able to read a book and the words not blur. It sounds silly but using my dyslexic font on my Kindle along with my pink tinted glasses, reading is suddenly enjoyable. I never understood why people would torture themselves by reading a book but I see why now. It's a silly little achievement, it just makes me simile.

My advice to someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia:

Once you’re diagnosed you feel a weight lifted from you, it's at that time all those struggles with certain areas of life become clear. It's then when you finally can experiment with your own strategies, don't be afraid to speak up that you need extra time for a piece of work or even ask for something to be printed with a different font. People are so much more accommodating once they know your dyslexic. It's our super power after all.

Whether you call dyslexia a learning disability , difficulty or neurodiversity. The great inventors, the engineers, artists, musicians and the people that move you along. Most of them are dyslexic, we are superheroes putting our stamp on the world and moving us forward.